Title: Come Back To Me

Rating: T

Word Count: 3352

Pairing: Bella / Edward

Summary: (384 Character Limit) With Edward by her side, Bella felt like she could face almost anything. Instead, he was somewhere else on the day she feared would be her last.

Warning: I own nothing—not the Twilight Saga nor the song that inspired this. Thank you to my lovely at present anonymous beta who helped get this thing into shape. Warning: There will be angst ahead.

~ 0 ~

Come Back to Me

~ 0 ~

Bella lived each day in fear.

It wasn't the creeping, cloying feeling of being followed, or the unnamable sensation in the pit of her stomach that something bad was going to happen. It was a genuine fear that any day—any minute—may be her last. That it might, in fact, be the last day for everyone on the planet as well.

Her greatest fear, though, was that she may not see her husband before the end.

Bella hadn't known when it was going to happen, but she knew it would. She trusted her husband, Edward, more than anything, and he'd told her that the end of the world was coming.

Now, so many months later, she could see the impending destruction for herself. The object seemed to hang in the sky like a demented Christmas ornament, unbelievably close and yet simultaneously distant.

It was almost surreal to know her world was about to crash down around her, but the knot of fear in her stomach had nothing to do with the oncoming Apocalypse and everything to do with Edward's absence.

In that moment, she couldn't help but reflect on everything that had led her to this point–to facing the end of the world alone.

~ 0 ~

When Bella had first met Edward, he was just a sweet, high school nerd. He loved his family and his friends, and he loved looking at the stars.

Bella knew she was lucky to be the one who'd captured his heart. He treated her like a princess and loved her more than anything. They'd married straight after high school because they just couldn't stand to be apart. Bella loved his fascination with astronomy and supported him when he wanted to study. She worked hard to bring in the money while he was attending university. There was nothing she wouldn't do for him, and she knew he felt the same.

That was almost twelve years ago, and they'd had the perfect relationship since then. They loved and enjoyed each other more than anyone had thought possible. They lived a life many envied, even though they'd married so young. Although they were never wealthy, they had each other and that was enough for them. They knew that as long as they were together, they could face unbeatable odds.

They lived each day with the simple, inescapable knowledge that they would be together until death parted them.

At least that had been their life until twenty-two months ago, when Edward made a discovery that cast their lives and their futures into darkness.

As part of his interest in the night sky, asteroids had always fascinated Edward. He loved tracking and identifying them. He usually fixated on one asteroid at a time. His most recent fixation was with the asteroid designated 1997XF11.

After extensively tracking and monitoring the path of 1997XF11, Edward discovered the unthinkable.

The long-held prediction that the asteroid would soar harmlessly by the Earth's atmosphere was wrong. Edward computed his calculations again and again, trying desperately to find an error. He tried in vain to prove himself wrong.

He obsessed over research papers and archival studies. He tried to figure out why no one had realized before. He couldn't find any fault with the previous trajectory assessments; the calculations were correct. Only something had changed since. When he explained his discovery to Bella, he told her that he didn't know what had caused the shift. Maybe excess radiation from a solar flare had knocked the asteroid ever so slightly off course, or maybe it had collided with another small solar system body, one just large enough to change the path by minute degrees.

Ultimately, though, the why was meaningless. What was why worth when the result was a catastrophic collision course with his home planet? When the world that housed his love, his Bella, would cease to exist.

His entire focus shifted. He no longer wanted to know more about the asteroid that was going to strike the Earth; he just wanted to stop it.

He struggled to get the word out as best as he could. He published papers, contacted his peers, and advised the government. He reached out to anyone who he thought could help, but it was a constant struggle to get anyone to believe him. At first people assumed he was wrong, that his calculations were flawed. Many people, including his peers, assumed that if 1997XF11—a well-known and well-documented asteroid—was going to strike the Earth, someone would have realized long ago.

It took almost twelve months, but finally Edward's discovery was confirmed by peer review.

Someone acknowledged that his calculations were correct, that the asteroid designated 1997XF11 was going to strike the Earth.

Suddenly, Edward became famous. He was credited with the discovery of the Century. His name became synonymous with the asteroid that would destroy life as we knew it. Bella had to watch as her introverted husband was paraded on live news channels to tell his story. She had to witness his struggle with newfound fame.

It broke her heart.

She had to hold him when he came home each night, more stressed than when he'd left.

Something changed inside of him after his first interviews. It was almost as if he'd reached the conclusion that since he was the one to calculate the asteroids correct course, the disaster that would follow was his fault. He acted as though he'd personally lifted his hand to the sky and commanded the asteroid change course. He became fixated with changing the fate of the world.

Each night, he held Bella especially tight as he tried to sleep. Without fail, he was plagued by dreams of the end of the world. He was forced to watch the end of everything he loved; he saw Bella bathed in fire as the world crumbled around her. He woke with a thin sheen of cold sweat and reached desperately for his wife.

Every night, Bella felt the coils of fear twist tighter in her stomach. She understood that the imminent collision would cause destruction, but it seemed too surreal to wrap her head around.

Witnessing Edward's nightmares worried her. She held him as he cried against her chest. His voice was low and hurried as he apologized over and over.

Edward spent so many hours locked away in his study; his nightmares were on the increase. It was almost as if he'd reached the conclusion that since he was the one to calculate the asteroid's correct course, the disaster that would follow was his fault. He acted as though he'd personally lifted his hand to the sky and commanded the asteroid to hit Earth. He became fixated with changing the fate of the world.

Bella watched helplessly as her husband withdrew even further into himself. She tried to be there for him. She tried to give him everything he needed, but she no longer knew what he needed. She gave him everything she had until she was nothing more than a bundle of raw nerves and a broken heart. She gave until she had no emotion left but fear.

She worried because she knew how much he was hiding. In every interview, he never discussed the fears that he'd shared with her in the dead of night. He never told anyone else the true extent of the damage he believed the asteroid would cause.

Regardless, the story of the asteroid went viral. Television news channels described what they believed were worse case scenarios. Each told the same story: major cities destroyed; tidal waves; widespread looting. According to news reports, the population of the Pacific Coast of America—where the asteroid was expected to impact—would be decimated.

There was a mass exodus. People fled to other cities, other countries. Bella knew something they didn't. All of the reports had it wrong. It wasn't just those towns and cities near the point of impact that were in danger. The entire planet would suffer the effects. It didn't matter whether she was at home or a thousand miles away; she would die.

Bella decided that she was going to die on her terms. She wanted to be at home, surrounded by the evidence and memories of her blissful life with Edward. She stayed where she was and continued to live in fear.

As time drew on, governments and corporations all over the world had clamored to be the one who stopped the monstrous asteroid and saved the planet. There were so many suggested solutions, so many attempts. They'd tried every solution from painting the surface to cool the rock and disrupt its spin, to sending nuclear warheads to blast it in a different direction.

Each time, people experienced the same emotions: elation as the new plan was implemented; hope as they watched the TV waiting for the result; disappointment as the asteroid kept hurtling towards Earth.

The sky was littered with clutter and discarded weapons. In a period that didn't even span ten months, a new space race had begun and ended as a catastrophic failure.

There was only one hope left for the world: Bella's husband.

Edward was part of a team of scientists chosen for the next, and last, mission.

He hadn't been able to tell Bella any specific details about the top-secret mission, but she'd learned enough. She knew it involved sending a manned crew into space, and that Edward suspected it wasn't going to work. He'd never told her so in so many words, but the fear in his eyes when she held him each night was all she needed to know. His nightmares were so frequent and grating that most nights he simply refused to sleep.

The morning of the launch, Edward clung to Bella tightly as they said their goodbyes. It was so close to D-Day that it was possible it was the last time they would see each other.

If everything went right, they would look back on this moment. They would never take for granted their desperation or their love for one another.

If things went wrong, at least they knew what they felt for each other. They had been blessed with years of love and memories that they both cherished.

Bella had months to come to terms with the knowledge that her life was likely to end, and she thought she was as ready as she would ever be to face it.

For the first time in her life, Bella felt inferior to Edward. She wished she'd studied engineering or astrophysics. She wished she had something to offer and could be by his side. Even without any skills to add to the team, she longed to help him, even if it was just to hold his hand while they experienced what would be, for better or worse, a historical moment for humanity.

Unfortunately, it was impossible. Not only was she not cleared for entry into the secure facility, but she had no way to get to Seattle even if she'd been able. The near-desertion of the Pacific Coast had left roads in ruins, traffic jams had extended for miles, and many cars had broken down under the strain. People had left them where they stopped and walked instead, leaving busted cars scattered over the blacktop. The only way to travel anywhere in Washington was by helicopter, and Edward was taking the final seat.

Bella put on her bravest face as Edward said goodbye. He refused to let her come to the meadow to see him off, declaring that it was much too dangerous.

Of those people who remained, there seemed to be two groups: the looters taking advantage of vacant houses full of possessions left unprotected, and the vigilante gangs roaming the streets in the name of keeping people and property safe.

It was a dangerous time to be alone, but even worse to be a woman alone and out in the open.

Bella watched anxiously as the minutes ticked by far too slowly. Each second until the designated launch time felt like an eternity. She was under strict instructions from Edward not to watch the TV until it was time. He didn't want to have her draw attention to herself in the house. He made her keep a gun by her side, just in case anyone realized she was there.

When the time came, Bella turned on her TV. While everyone else in the world watched the crew, the mission controller, and everything that seemed important, her eyes had been trained on Edward. She watched his reaction to the launch.

Perched on the edge of the sofa, her fingers itched and ached, anxious to reach out and hold his hand. She could see the stress printed on her husband's face as he sat at one of the computers far off in the background. Nothing else on the screen mattered. She wanted the mission to succeed, not just for her own safety but because she wanted Edward to succeed.

At ground control, Edward felt helpless. He prayed to every deity he could think of and wished as hard as he could. He'd given up on scientific calculations as they didn't provide the answers he needed. He knew the asteroid was already too close. To him, the whole mission was an exercise in futility. He wanted to be home with Bella; he wished he'd never agreed to leave her.

Bella's stomach clenched in pain as she watched Edward's face fall in reaction to whatever he could see on his screen.

Moments later, she knew. The ticker on the bottom of the screen announced the failure of the mission. The spacecraft had hurtled toward the asteroid seemingly without control, smashing against the solid rock without slowing.

She knew then that what Edward had witnessed was the deaths of six men who'd been selected for the prestigious opportunity. The guilt printed on his features was so clear to Bella. She knew he had foretold the failure of the final mission to save their lives.

The coverage changed, and a presidential announcement broke into the broadcast. The President began her speech, and Bella turned the TV off in disgust. She didn't want to see an elected stranger feeding the world palliative words. She just wanted to see her husband.

Bella sat on the couch for what felt like hours, staring blankly at the wall knowing there would be no reprieve. Humanity had fired the last shot of the battle, and had lost. There was nothing left now but to wait.

She didn't know whether it would be hours or days. She could only hope it would be long enough for Edward to come back to her. He'd been taken to Seattle by helicopter because they'd needed him in ground control. She couldn't see how anyone would care about returning him to their tiny town of Forks. It pained her to think of him so far away at the end.

She broke down, wishing that she'd insisted on going with him. She should have demanded he stay with her. He'd known success was unlikely! She was angry with him for leaving; leaving her to face certain death on her own. She became scared and sick with worry that she would feel pain in those final moments of life without him.

Bella left the living room and walked to the glass doors along the back of their house. Disregarding all of Edward's instructions to stay inside, she slid open the door and stepped onto the patio. She was facing the end and was trying to accept that she would die; what did it matter if it came in the form of a bullet from a gun or from a chunk of space debris falling to Earth at an impossible speed?

As if called by a siren, Bella looked up at the evening sky. Inky reds and purples streaked ominously across the sky as the sinking sun dipped below the horizon. It was almost as if the light was clinging to the final moments of the last day on Earth.

Despite her calm rationality and knowledge that she was close to death, a familiar feeling of fear clenched in her stomach and she welcomed it as an old friend. It was proof that although it was almost the end, she wasn't dead yet.

As if answering a prayer she never made, her eyes found the object she'd spent almost two years dreading the arrival of. It appeared as an almost ethereal object, but grew menacing as she watched it. The mass seemed to increase even as it seemingly hung impossibly still, high in the atmosphere.

It was almost surreal to know her world was about to crash down around her, but the knot of fear in her stomach had nothing to do with the oncoming Apocalypse and everything to do with Edward's absence.

She could handle anything if she had Edward by her side. Without him, she felt incomplete.

She closed her eyes for just a minute and said a silent prayer.

When she opened her eyes, the asteroid had grown in size again, the edges of the mass burning red-hot. She wondered whether her remaining life would be counted in minutes, or seconds.

Despite the town being nearly empty, Bella heard sounds echoing all around her. People screamed and rushed to get to their storm-cellars. She pushed the noise from her mind, knowing there was nothing she could do to help them, nothing they could do to help themselves.

She whispered for Edward again, calling his name with reverence, hoping to find that he was with her in spirit if not in body.

Almost as if he'd heard her calling to him, Edward's hand slipped into hers. Bella's heart stopped beating. She could barely believe he was there.

He'd returned.

Bella's eyes dropped to their joined hands before turning back to the rock intruding into their atmosphere.

Against all odds, he'd returned.

The fire burning around the rock had changed from red to white, intensifying until it was brighter than the sun.

She longed to ask him how he'd made it home, but worried that if she spoke, it could turn out to be nothing more than a cruel hoax in her mind.

Edward's fingers tightened around her own, giving her hand a gentle squeeze.

A tear escaped her eye and he raised his other hand to softly wipe it away. Their bodies naturally turned to align with each other.

"You're here?" she said, the statement becoming a question as it escaped through the lump in her throat.

"Do you think anything could keep me away?"

"But how—"

He pressed his finger gently to her lip to silence her question.

"Does it matter?" he asked.

She shook her head softly. It didn't matter; nothing mattered except that he was by her side.

His eyes lifted from hers to view the fireball closing in on them through the dark sky. Bella's eyes followed his and her heart began to thump rapidly as fear raced through her system. Edward felt her panic.

He cupped her cheek to guide her eyes back to him.

"Dance with me?" he asked quietly.

Bella closed her eyes to mentally delete the mass that now almost filled the sky.

For the first time in months, she felt no fear. She knew what would happen next, but she was going to face it with Edward. She could do anything with him by her side.

"You came back," she whispered and opened her eyes to look at her husband.

Edward smiled and then, with his hand tightly wrapped around hers, guided her back into their house. He pulled her into a tight embrace and held her tightly as they ignored the roaring crescendo from outside and instead danced to the rhythm of their beating hearts and soft breaths.

She looked up into his eyes as he spun her in slow circles. In that moment, the noise all around them silenced.

The peace was absolute.

Their lips met as the world around them burst into a vibrant light.

~ END ~